A's lock up catcher Kurt Suzuki through 2013

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The A’s on Friday signed popular catcher Kurt Suzuki to a four-year contract worth a guaranteed $16.25 million, according to the San Francisco Chronicle’s Susan Slusser.
The new deal replaces the one-year, $420,000 contract Suzuki signed prior to 2010. He would have been eligible for arbitration for the first time in the offseason. Now all three of his arbitration years are spoken for, and there’s a vesting option for 2014, his first year of free agency, that could make the deal worth $25 million-$26 million.
It seems like a pretty high price for the A’s to pay considering Suzuki’s modest numbers. He did drive in 88 runs last year, but he’s not going to match that number this season after spending time on the DL in May with a strained intercostal muscle. He finished with OPSs of 716 and 734 in his two full seasons, and he’s at 724 at the moment.
That only scratches the surface of Suzuki’s value to the team, though. While he did miss time this season, he was among the major league leaders in catching 141 games in 2008 and 135 in 2009. He’s regarded as an above average defender, particularly when it comes to calling games. And, at age 26, he figures to remain a very solid player for the duration of the deal.
So, he’s quite likely to be worth his salaries under the terms of the extension. Whether he would have done better in arbitration is another matter. Given his unspectacular batting averages and home run totals, he certainly wasn’t going to break the bank, and the A’s might have been able to save some money by going year to year with him.
However, that’s not a risk they were willing to take. At least this does settle the matter of whether Suzuki will be traded. He was frequently asked about, though never offered around, and now that he’s locked up, his name figures to go absent from the rumor mill for at least the next year and a half.

Bruce Maxwell first MLB player to kneel during National Anthem

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Athletics’ rookie catcher Bruce Maxwell did not stand for the National Anthem on Saturday night. He’s the first MLB player to do so and, like other professional athletes before him, used the moment to send a message — not just to shed light on the lack of racial equality in the United States, but to specifically protest President Donald Trump’s suggestion that NFL owners fire any of their players who elect to protest the anthem by sitting or kneeling.

“Bruce’s father is a proud military lifer. Anyone who knows Bruce or his parents is well aware that the Maxwells’ love and appreciation for our country is indisputable,” Maxwell’s agent, Matt Sosnick, relayed to the San Francisco Chronicle’s Susan Slusser on Friday. He continued:

Bruce has made it clear that he is taking a stand about what he perceives as racial injustices in this country, and his personal disappointment with President Trump’s response to a number of professional athletes’ totally peaceful, non-violent protests.

Bruce has shared with both me and his teammates that his feelings have nothing to do with a lack of patriotism or a hatred of any man, but rather everything to do with equality for men, women and children regardless of race or religion.

While Maxwell didn’t make his own statement to the media, he took to Instagram earlier in the day to express his frustration against the recent opposition to the protests, criticizing the President for endorsing “division of man and rights.”

Despite Trump’s profanity-laced directive to NFL owners on Friday, however, it’s clear the Athletics don’t share his sentiments. “The Oakland A’s pride ourselves on being inclusive,” the team said in a statement released after Maxwell’s demonstration. “We respect and support all of our players’ constitutional rights and freedom of expression.”

Whatever the fallout, kudos to Maxwell for taking a stand. He may be the first to do so in this particular arena, but he likely won’t be the last.

Alex Wilson broke his leg on a 103-MPH comebacker

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This one is brutal. Tigers’ right-handed reliever Alex Wilson was diagnosed with a broken leg after taking a blistering 103.8-MPH line drive off of his right leg during Saturday’s game against the Twins. According to the Detroit News’ Chris McCosky, it’s a non-displaced fibular fracture, but will still warrant an extended recovery period and signal the end of Wilson’s season.

Wilson replaced Drew VerHagen to start the eighth inning and worked a full count against Joe Mauer. Mauer roped an 93.3-MPH fastball back up the middle, where it struck the pitcher on his right calf. While Mauer took first base, Wilson got to his feet and tried to toss a warm-up pitch, but was in too much pain to continue and had to be helped off the field.

Even in a season that isn’t going anywhere in particular, this isn’t how you want it to end. The Tigers have yet to announce a recovery timetable for the 30-year-old reliever, but he won’t return to the mound until 2018. He exited Saturday’s outing with a 4.35 ERA, 2.3 BB/9 and 6.3 SO/9 over 60 innings.

The Tigers currently trail the Twins 10-3 in the bottom of the ninth inning.